Professor Thomas Osborne

Professor Thomas Osborne

Professor Thomas Osborne
Professor of Social and Political Theory

2.01, 4 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
(See a map)

Telephone Number (0117) 3310710

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

Lecturer, Department of Human Sciences, Brunel University, 1991-4.

Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Bristol 1994-2000; Reader in Social Theory 2000-2005; Professor of Social and Cultural Theory 2005-16; 2016- Professor of Social and Political Theory. Member of Ediorial Board, Economy and Society


My current work is focused on political reason and liberal government. I was associated early on in my career - over twenty years ago - with the beginnings of governmentality studies in the UK, especially in relation to the history of public health, bio-politics and medical regulation. Subsequently I have developed my interests in the direction of the history of social thought, and more recently in the direction of political theory and political ethics, focusing on topics to do with trust, representation, liberalism, political fear and populism. I currently hold a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship covering these areas.

Key publications

  1. Osborne, T, 1998, ‘Aspects of enlightenment: Social theory and the ethics of truth’. UCL Press
  2. Osborne, T, 2003, ‘'Against Creativity'’. Economy and Society, vol 32., pp. 507 - 525
  3. Osborne, T, 2003, ‘What is a Problem?’. History of the Human Sciences, vol 16 (4)., pp. 1 - 17
  4. Osborne, T, 2004, ‘On mediators: intellectuals and the ideas trade in the knowledge society’. Economy and Society, vol 33 (4)., pp. 430 - 447
  5. Osborne, T & N., R, 2008, ‘Populating Sociology: Carr-Saunders and the problem of population’. Sociological Review, vol 56., pp. 552 - 578
  6. Osborne, T, 2008, ‘The Structure of Modern Cultural Theory’. Manchester University Press

Latest publications

  1. Osborne, T, 2018, ‘Shamefulness and Modernity: remarks on Shakespeare's Sonnet 129’. in: Barry Sheils, Julie Walsh (eds) Shame and Modern Writing. Routledge, London, pp. 50-67
  2. Osborne, T, 2017, ‘Machiavelli and the liberalism of fear’. History of the Human Sciences, vol 30., pp. 68-85
  3. Molyneaux, M & Osborne, T, 2017, ‘Populism: a deflationary view’. Economy and Society, vol 46., pp. 1-19
  4. Osborne, TSD, 2016, ‘Vitalism as Pathos’. Biosemiotics, vol 9., pp. 185-205

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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